It is said that Tsuno Shrine located in Tsuno-cho, Koyu-gun, Miyazaki Prefecture, was founded in 666 BC, when Emperor Jinmu offered a prayer for his military success and national stability at this place before he left Takachiho in Hyuga province to conquer the Yamato region. Since then the shrine has close association with the successive emperors.
The precinct together with the gravel lane to the shrine building is filled with solemn atmosphere. Surrounded by magnificent cedar tree groves, you will feel yourself purified at this shrine.
The annual festival of the shrine is held on December 4 and 5 every year. The 4th is the festival eve and the 5th is the main festival day. It features various events such as the Tsuno So-odori parade, in which a lot of people dance together in a huge circle, the Hyuga Hyottoko Dance, which is a comical dance performed by dancers with Hyottoko masks, the Shihanmato archery tournament and the dedication of kagura dance. The visitors to the shrine are treated with amazake (sweet sake wine), shochu and tonjiru (miso soup with pork and vegetables) in the precinct.
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is located in Sakaeura near Tokoro in Kitami, Hokkaido. The garden is part of Abashiri National Park and is situated near the Okhotsk Sea coast and on the shore of Saroma Lake, one of Japan's three biggest lakes. As a natural treasury, it has been designated as a site of Hokkaido Heritage.
'Wakka' in the language of the native Ainu people means 'drinking water' or 'springwater'. On the long sandbar dividing Saroma Lake and the Okhotsk Sea, there is a spring called Wakka Flower Holy Water. The name Wakka here refers to the rich supply of water in the area. The sandbar is 200~700m wide and about 20km long. It is the biggest area of seaside grassland in Japan.
Varying ecosystems have formed within the forest, grassland, dunes and marsh. More than 300 kinds of plants and flowers grow here including species from outside. The area is also a natural habitat for various wild birds.
Wakka Wild Flower Garden is also known as Ryugu Highway and features vivid natural scenery.
The Big Cedars of Omiwa are located in Tamozawa, Kanayama Town, Mogami County, Yamagata prefecture. They were originally planted for lumber.
The cedars, up to 128, are some of the biggest cultivated trees of their kind in Japan. They were first planted as saplings back in the Edo period, probably in 1764, making them about 230 years old.
Mogami district has much snow in winter. In May 2006, there was such a heavy snowfall that six trees were bent by the weight of snow. As a result, these six trees, all of them over 250 years old, were cut down.
To see such enormous trees felled was overwhelming, particularly because two of the trees were 50m tall with trunks 80cm in circumference. Their immensity was a living demonstration of history.
Kuragari Valley is in Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture, and has a forest. There are facilities here, such as a campground. The valley is located 26km east of Okazaki near the Hongusan Prefectural Nature Reserve.
The valley lies between 250m and 600m above sea level. Flowing through the valley is Otokogawa River. In the forest are both evergreen and broad-leaf trees, with streams of many sizes flowing among them.
People enjoy the forest as a place for recreation and relaxation. In spring, birds sing, while summer days are filled with the croaking of 'kajika' frogs. Nature continually delights visitors and refreshes them. From the highest point the Southern Alps can be seen ranging across the horizon.
Shioji Primeval Forest is in Maetsue-machi, Hita, Oita Prefecture. The primeval shioji tree is a waterside deciduous broadleaf tree native to Japan.
Shioji forest spreads for 3ha across the hills of Shakadake in western Maetsue and is a precious primeval forest, where Japan's few remaining shioji trees can be seen in their natural state. The annual rainfall of this forest zone is over 3000mm, making it very damp and humid. Many varieties of moss and low plants thrive in this environment, as well as rare insects and small animals that are the subjects of scientific study.
The water that wells out from the soft soil and the rich forest is plentiful in minerals and forms the headwaters of the Chikugo River. In addition to shioji, many other deciduous broadleaf trees grow near the forest, including beech and maple.
The primeval shioji forest is an example of a preserved area that reveals a part of Japan's original environment.
Kurobe Lake is an artificial lake formed by the completion of Kurobe Dam in 1963. It is located near the town of Tateyama in Toyama Prefecture, at the foot of the Japan North Alps.
Meltwater from the North Alps runs into the lake, which is surrounded by original beech forest. The emerald green water is very beautiful with the Tateyama and Ushiro Tateyama mountain ranges reflected on the lake's quiet surface.
At 1448m, the lake offers the highest point in Japan where you can take a cruise. Comfortable cruises are available from 1 June to 10 November. You will be moved by the beauty of the North Alps and the sight of the majestic trees changing through the four seasons. From late September to early October, the beech trees at the shore turn from green to yellow, adding a vivid touch to the mystery of the scenery.
Ohtsubaki, a giant camellia tree in Oidani, Toyama Prefecture, stands in woodland on a hill between a gorge, deep within an old valley.
At its largest point, the trunk of the tree is 3.87m in circumference, and is said to be the largest tree of its kind in Japan. The branches of the tree spread out 7.9m east to west, and 11m north to south. The area of the tree, including the branches, is said to be 51m2 in total.
The sight of the tree with its branches extending in all directions and toward the sky is simply overwhelming, while the twists and turns of its branches seem to have been made by a tree spirit's enchantment. There is an old legend explaining the bizarre shapes of the branches. Long ago, a samurai serving at Ikeda Castle, was beheaded under a false accusation. His wife died of sadness. Instead of making a tomb for them both, a seed from a camellia tree was planted and grew strangely at an immense speed. Its branches crisscrossed ferociously as if it bitterly resented the lord of Ikeda Castle. However, after the fall of the castle, the tree stopped growing, taking the shape it has today.